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Spain’s Beautiful Basque Country

  • Hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Basque Country © With the permission of Bilbao Tourismo

    Hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Basque Country (C) With the permission of Bilbao Tourismo
  • Bilbao País Vasco Euskadi 07-10-2013 Una persona mira Bilbao desde el parque de Artxanda © Fotógrafo: MITXI

    Bilbao País Vasco Euskadi Artxanda Basque Country
  • Monument to the Gudarirs, Mount Artxanda, Bilbao, Basque Country. Monumento a los Gudaris Aartxanda 1 © With the permission of Bilbao Turismo - Bilbao País Vasco Euskadi 17-09-2013 La escultura "La huella" de Juan José Novella, en el parque del mirador de Artxanda © FOTOGRAFO: MITXI

    Monument to the Gudarirs, Mount Artxanda, Bilbao, Basque Country. Monumento a los Gudaris Aartxanda 1 (C) With the permission of Bilbao Turismo - Bilbao País Vasco Euskadi 17-09-2013 La escultura
  • Plaza Nueva, Bilbao, Basque Country ©

    Plaza Nueva, Bilbao, Basque Country (C) With the permission of Bilbao Turismo - Bilbao País Vasco Euskadi 22-09-2013 Ambiente en terrazas de la Plaza Nueva © FOTOGRAFO: MITXI
  • Donostia-San Sebastián. Bahía de la Concha and Isla de Santa Clara, Basque Country © Instituto de Turismo de España (TURESPAÑA)

    Donostia-San Sebastián. Bahía de la Concha and Isla de Santa Clara, Basque Country © Instituto de Turismo de España (TURESPAÑA)
  • Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country © Instituto de Turismo de España (TURESPAÑA)

    Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country © Instituto de Turismo de España (TURESPAÑA
8 day tour
From £475 per person - minimum 30 passengers

Highly Recommended - Tried and Tested

Discover Bilbao and San Sebastián

The Basque region, in north west Spain, is a fantastic destination. It offers a mix of verdant mountains, beautiful coastlines, cosmopolitan cities and historic towns and villages. But it is the Basque people, with their own language, and passionately proud of their culture and traditions that are distinct to that of their neighbours, who make this a special destination.

Bilbao has recently undergone major transformations. It features staggering architecture, the pearl of which is the Guggenheim museum. Artful and iconic, it captivates visitors. The city also boasts architectural gems from the past. The neo-baroque theatre is breathtaking and spectacular cathedrals litter the city.  The art nouveau train station is also worth a visit, regardless of whether you’re taking a train!

The Best of the Basque Country

During this tour, we also explore San Sebastián with its alluring coastline and head into the hills to sample traditional Basque produce. Guernica, the historic home of the Basques, is sadly best know for its tragic past. The old buildings were lost and the town has been rebuilt, but the past remains in some fascinating museums dealing with the bombing. An indisputable highlight of this trip, and indeed the Basque region, is San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. This rocky islet is striking and beautiful beyond comprehension.


Dates

March - October 2022


Suggested itinerary by coach

Day 1-2

Travel to Spain

Travel to the Spain on the comfortable overnight sailing from Portsmouth to Santander. Perhaps enjoy a buffet meal onboard and settle into your cabin. The following day, continue to Bilbao, our base for the next five nights.

Day 3

Bilbao Sightseeing

Today we explore Bilbao, once the industrial powerhouse of Spain’s north, it has undergone a major transformation in recent years. Today it is a thriving, bustling, cosmopolitan city, with architect Frank Gehry’s striking Guggenheim Museum Bilbao topping the list of must-see attractions. Wander the ‘Seven Streets’, the original medieval part of the Old Town. Perhaps take the funicular to the summit of Mount Arxanda for panoramic views over the city and nearby mountains, or see the city from a different perspective with a boat trip on the Nervión river. A guided walking tour can be arranged.

Day 4

San Sebastián Sightseeing

We head east today to visit San Sebastián (Donostia in the Basque language). Compared to the cityscape of Bilbao, San Sebastián’s beautiful Playa de la Concha beach can come as quite a surprise. Wander through the lively old town, perhaps sampling ‘pintxos’, the region’s famous tapas-style dishes. There’s plenty to see: the fascinating Museo San Telmo, the city’s two cathedrals, and the beautiful beach! If time permits, travel the half hour or so up the coast to Hondarribia, an absolutely charming little hilltop town where you can look down on France, just across the river.

Day 5

Guernica and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

This morning we travel inland to pay a short visit to Guernica. The town is sadly best known due to its aerial bombardment in 1937 by Hitler’s forces as part of the Spanish Civil War. It was subsequently immortalised in the famous painting by Picasso. The town was the ancient seat of Basque democracy; the Basque parliament met beneath the branches of a sacred oak tree from medieval times until 1876.  The stump of the tree remains. We then travel to the coast and visit the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. The hermitage, connected to the mainland by a winding footbridge, is one of the best known and most iconic sights of the whole Basque Country. It will also be familiar to viewers of the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ where it features as the entrance to ‘Dragonstone’.

Day 6

At leisure in Bilbao or Txakoli Wine and Sagardoa Cider Tasting

Enjoy a day at leisure to discover more of Bilbao and its many museums and historic streets. Alternatively, why not head into the Basque hills to sample some excellent local produce? Visit a Sagardotegi cider house to try the local cider and traditional fayre – enjoy bacalao (cod) omelette, txuleton steak, Idiazabel cheese and Membrillo quince jelly. Txakoli, a slightly-sparkling fruity white wine is synonymous with the Basque Country and no visit to the area is truly complete without a glass!

Day 7-8

Return to the UK

We depart from Bilbao for Santander and time permitting, enjoy some time in the city. We say goodbye to Spain, boarding the return overnight ferry back to the UK.

Options

Add additional days and explore Biarritz and St Jean-de-Luz in the French Basque Country or head inland to Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Spanish Basque Country.


Suggested hotels

Hotel Ilunion, Bilbao ***

The hotel is close to San Mamés bus and metro stations. There is a lounge, gym and free WiFi. The modern air-conditioned rooms have a minibar, flat-screen TV and hairdryer. Coach parking available locally for a fee.

Barceló Occidental, Bilbao ****

Located close to the city’s Basilica de Bagoña, the hotel has excellent transport connections. Recently renovated, its large airy rooms feature a TV, air conditioning, safe, tea/coffee making facilities, all with exterior views. The restaurant offers lunch and dinner, there’s also a bar with great views over the city and mini-market for snacks. The hotel offers a fitness centre, spa, sauna, indoor (payable) and outdoor (open seasonally) and meeting rooms. Free Wi-Fi available. Free Overnight coach parking available 500m away.

NH Collection Aranzazu, San Sebastián ****

Located close to San Sebastián’s Ondareta Beach, it’s a 15 min scenic walk along La Concha Bay to the Old Town. The hotel’s 150 air-conditioned rooms feature a modern design and furniture, safe, minibar, television and Nepresso machine. The hotel also offers a bar, restaurant, terrace, gym and meeting centre. Coach parking available locally for a fee.


You may also be interested in:

Magnificent Madrid & the heart of Spain

Wines and Vines of Bordeaux


Dates Half Twin Single supplement
March – October 2022 From £475.00 per person From £259.00 per person
Price based on exchange rate of £1.00 = €1.170. All prices are per person based on sharing a double or twin room and with one free place in a single room, based on a minimum 25 full fare paying passengers. Prices do not include UK coach hire or travel insurance. Dates are subject to availability. Smaller groups can be quoted for on request. Greatdays Holidays Limited is a member of ABTA (Y0380) which means you have the benefit of ABTA's assistance and Code of Conduct. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. Greatdays Holidays Limited has an ATOL licence (4279) and all of our air package tours are protected under this licence. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the Civil Aviation Authority will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any monies you have paid to us for an advance booking. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this tour are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate. Our website policy is to use only copyright free images or images which have been authorised to us for free use by the owner. If you consider an image to be unauthorised or to be your property, please contact us immediately and if invalid we will have the image removed. If your image requires crediting or is missing a copyright statement then we will be pleased to add this to the webpage, contact us at info@greatdays.co.uk

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